Welcome to Tuesday Treat.
Today I have decided to do something a bit different. I am offering you a first from a work in progress. This is raw, unedited, and at present the story is only half complete. It is my first attempt at a Regency and this is where my characters converse for the first time. I do hope you enjoy this little excerpt, warts and all.
I would welcome opinions on the piece.
The footman opened the door for them and they stepped out into the warmth of a brilliant July afternoon.
She breathed deep as they stood at the top of the steps.
Poor captive. “We will walk as far as the willows you can see there.” He nodded to a thick stand of willow trees. “Can you manage with those shoes?”
“Yes, sir, and if they prove troublesome I’ll take ‘em off.” She let go of his arm and ran her hand over her hair, shoving loose strands back from her face.
A true child of nature. His sympathy for her grew. He took a couple of paces. “Tell me, Miss Fairchild, what would you usually be doing on such a day at home?”
“You know what I’d be doing. Aunt Margot said she had told you everything about me.”
“Oh no, Miss Fairchild, your aunt said you needed my assistance. I was glad to be of service to you and her.”
After a quick glance to the tall willows she narrowed her eyes and offered him a syrupy smile. “Ohh.” She pressed her fingers to her split lip for a second. “I’d be visiting the poor old folks in the village.”
Little liar. He held her gaze. “So, you’d not be in the Blue Boar dicing at Hazard or playing Faro?”
Her mouth dropped open.
“I suggest you never lie to me again, Miss Fairchild. You will find the consequences unpleasant if I discover that you have. While we walk, you shall listen to all I say, and we will come to some accord.”
She took a pace and stumbled forward where the lawn dipped. “Damn and blast it.”
He offered his arm, but she shook her head.
“Your language, Miss Fairchild, is most unbecoming in a young lady.”
A fiery spark lit her glance and her shoulders stiffened.
“I do know of the reports of your temper. I can tell you outright if you show your fangs and claws to me I will not tolerate it, and you will wish you had not done so.”
A quiver passed over her cheek.
“Your situation is most unfortunate, but it is not of my making. I am offering my services to you, Miss Fairchild, and your family, for your benefit not for my own.”
“I’ll pay what I owe for lodging with you. I have an allowance and rip my liver if I won’t see every guinea you spend returned to you.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Where did you learn such an expression?”
She shook her head.
“I have no wish to ever hear you use it again. I would like to ask you a question. If I had not agreed to your aunt’s wishes to take you for these next months, what do you think would have happened to you?” Birdsong filled the silence. After several minutes as they walked he grew convinced she would not answer. “I fear you may have ended up in some kind of asylum.”
“I understand your mother’s doctor has questioned your sanity.”
“How do you know all this?”
“Suffice to say I do. I have no doubt what so ever you may well have been locked away.” He didn’t add he suspected the physician of eyes on the fortune of her weak mother. If the doctor could declare this friendless young woman mentally unfit, she would no longer inherit, and the vast fortune this girl should rightly see would revert back to her mother, and of course, into the hands of any new husband.
“Locked up?” She shook from head to toe. Her hands juddered before she managed to clench them together so hard her knuckles stood out white.
“Miss Fairchild, I want you to know I will do all in my power to prevent such a wicked thing happening. However, if you continue to give opportunities for your enemies to harm you, my task will prove difficult indeed.”
“I wish I were dead.”
“And what a pity that would be. The remedy for your circumstances is in your hands and you may after a little time of adjustment find it pleasurable.”
“What! To be turned into a simpering ninny!”
“Who has suggested you should be? Certainly not I.”
“I will take on the responsibility of your education, a thing sadly neglected by your mother. You will learn the necessary skills to make you socially acceptable in any drawing room in this country.”
She jerked out her chin.“See. Ninnified.”
“I will also see you learn things you will enjoy more. Fencing let’s say, would that be agreeable to you?”
“From a fencing master?”
“Yes, many young ladies take up the sport. Archery too?”
Her smooth forehead wrinkled as she peered up. “You aren’t gulling me?”
“I do not lie and, no, Miss Fairchild, I would not torment you in such a way. Is there more you would wish to add to the list of activities?”
“Riding! Fishing! Shooting!”
“Yes to all. As long as you are accompanied in each instance.”
Her expression fell.
“I insist you will be accompanied at all times while out of the house on my estate. You will not, I hope, find my company irksome, nor that of the lady who will accompany you when I am unable to take the task.”
“I’m not an idiot!”
“Then I shall be delighted if you show the world so, for my task then becomes easier still. So, do we have an accord, Miss Fairchild. You will accept my offer and be an attentive and apt student.”
She sucked at her red and swollen lower lip. “As you said, I don’t have a lot of choice.”
“Indeed. Think on the notion and I will expect to have your reply before breakfast tomorrow, after which we will leave for my estate. Now, let us continue our walk.”
“Where is your estate, sir?”
“In Shropshire. We will journey there in the morning if you give your assent to my terms.”
“There is no need to wait until the morning, sir. I agree to what you have said.”
He smiled, bout one of this tussle won.